Dear Father Angelo,
mine more than a question wants to be a confidential chat. I have a nearly 15-year-old daughter who was baptized by two people who have never looked for her after she turned 4-years-old. She has always attended church, has been an altar girl, masses until the day of confirmation arrived (I specify that she also attended assiduously and with pleasure 6 years of catechism).
She always said that for her Confirmation she would choose as a Godfather someone who loves her and that in her opinion I should already have chosen at her baptism.
My brother, father of three (wonderful) children but separated and cohabiting with another person. Our priest did not accept, saying to change. But shouldn’t the Godfather be chosen out of love?
Now my daughter no longer wants to attend church and says she is no longer sure that God exists, because according to her our parish priest was unfair …
I must say that for a series of long reasons I too have lost faith in my parish priest, but not in God who gives me the strength to fight every morning.
It scares me that my daughter is losing her faith and that she no longer wants to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation if she can’t choose a person she loves, she says. I am afraid of this. My husband agrees with my daughter. What did my brother do that was so bad after all? Isn’t he a good person anyway? And why now his ex-wife can baptize her grandson only because she is separated but not officially cohabiting?
I apologize for the outburst but I need to talk to someone, for me it is a huge pain if my daughter will not receive her Confirmation.
Response from the priest
1. It is not enough for somebody to be good for him/her to fulfill the office of godfather or godmother.
Many non-Christians are good, but they cannot be godparents in baptism or confirmation.
And this is not because they are not good enough, but because some important requirements are missing.
2. I don’t doubt your brother’s goodness in the slightest, but that’s still not enough to be a godfather
3. In the meantime, let’s see what is required for one to be a godfather or godmother:
Here is what the discipline of the Church (namely the Code of Canon Law) establishes:
“Can. 892 The one who is confirmed should be assisted as far as possible by the godfather, whose task is to see that the one confirmed behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent in the sacrament itself.
4. Now your brother, although excellent in many respects, is separated from his family and lives with another woman who is not his wife.
In short, he lives in a situation of adultery.
5. With the sacrament of matrimony one assumes the vocation of being with one’s behavior a visible and tangible sign of the way in which God loves man and Christ loves the Church.
Although man and the Church as made up of men are not always deserving of God’s love, God nevertheless loves them tirelessly and faithfully.
A Confirmation Godfather must be a witness to this: of the tireless and faithful love with which God loves man and Christ loves the Church.
6. Now your brother, however good he may be, is not showing tireless and faithful love for his wife with his own behavior, as he promised on his wedding day, but contradicts it.
In fact, precisely because of this state of affairs, it cannot be confessed or communicated.
7. As you can see, we are quick to say that we cannot tolerate the parish priest. But in this case I must say that the parish priest has done his duty.
If he had succumbed on this point with your daughter, he would also have had to yield with so many others who would have chosen Godfathers and Godmothers who live in a situation that contradicts the testimony to be given to Christ.
And then the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation, which as such is an outpouring of Grace and of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of Christ and his tireless love, would be contradicted by an evident contrary behavior.
8. If other people have only the outside that does not contradict the testimony to be given to Christ, but they do not have the inside, it is their business.
They will have to account to God for this deception done to the Church.
But their double life does not excuse those who blatantly contradict the obligations of their state.
9. This whole affair, rather than distancing your daughter from God and the Sacraments of the Church, should involve her in celebrating this Sacrament in a more authentic way.
Starting with the choice of the Godfather or Godmother, that is, that he is a person who lives in accordance with what he promised on the wedding day: to be faithful in good times and bad times to his wife and not give his affection to a person different from his wife and the mother of his children.
In particular I would recommend that she chooses someone who on that day ,after a good Confession, can offer Holy Communion for her.
I wish you all the best, I remind you before the Lord and I bless you.